The Champions League returns this week with the round of the last sixteen. Whilst we wait with anticipation for the games to start, it gives us an opportunity to look ahead and try to determine who the eventual winner will be. I will be focusing only on the top four contenders according to the Odds Checker website.

Barcelona

Barcelona are the favourites and are ranked at 7/2 by Paddy Power sport. One would be a fool to ever discount whether Barcelona can win the #Champions League. Unbeaten in six league games with a first placed finish in the group stages, the Catalans have a lot going for them. Add into the equation the players at their disposal, especially with possibly the greatest player of all time in Lionel Messi, Barcelona are on their day simply unstoppable.

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But they do have flaws. One being is that they rely so heavily on the Messi/Neymar/Suarez front three that if they were not to deliver their best, the team suffers. Barcelona are a different animal to the one created by Pep Guardiola. There is less involvement from the middle of the park with more emphasis on getting the ball up top. Can they win it? Sure. The resounding 6-0 victory over the weekend, as reported on Fotmob, illustrated all that they are about. I can see them getting to the final and then, who knows?

Bayern Munich

Next up are the Germans. A formidable side who are beginning to run away with the Bundesliga. With an array of world class stars including Manuel Neuer, Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben (there are many more), on their day #bayern munich are a match for anybody.

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Although no one can doubt their quality, they have had problems. It is only in the past few months that they have played like we know they can. In addition they did fail to top their group in Europe. Although obviously not a travesty, for a team looked up to as being one of the best on the continent, it is not good enough. And then the form of their special one, Thomas Muller. The player who over the years has always delivered when it matters the most. However, this season it has not happened for him. The fact that he only has one league goals this season, as stated on the Goal website, illustrates that. However, the fact that they are so good and so strong all over the pitch, I do see them getting to the final. It is for this reason that they are placed at 4/1 according to Ladbrokes to win it.

Real Madrid

Next up are #Real Madrid. Although they did go forty games unbeaten, the fact that they are 5/1 according to Ladbrokes and not higher is, I believe, down to their form in the group stages where they ended second.

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However, with the league well within their grasp, with the (current) best footballer in the world on good form and the return to come from Gareth Bale I also believe they could go all the way. Certainly to the semis and then we shall see. But they will need Cristiano Ronaldo to be at his best for it to happen.

Juventus

I am also surprised that the odds for Juventus are not higher. Bet Stars places them at 12/1, despite the fact that they are on such good form, they are well in control of the league and they have the impressive Gonzalo Higuain who just cannot stop scoring. They may be viewed by many as the dark horses but they should not be. I see them also getting to the semis.